Why Honeybees Love Hexagons

Rachel Tepper Paley

Honeycombs may look like sticky works of art, but they’re actually feats of mathematical genius. So says this Ted-Ed video, which breaks down the reason why honeybees are so in love with hexagons.

It all comes down to space management. Bees must produce a large quantity of wax to build the honeycombs that, as you know, store their precious honey. But that’s easier said than done.

"Bees have to consume eight ounces of honey to produce just one ounce of wax, so they don’t want to waste it," the video’s narrator explains. "So they need a design that allows them to store the largest possible amount of honey using the least amount of wax."

That shape? The hexagon. Bees likely didn’t settle on this shape right away; it’s probably the evolutionary result of thousands of years of trial and error.

Clearly, good things come to bees that wait. Luckily for you, though, there’s no need to wait for honeyed dishes like honey cornbread, honey-soy glazed chicken or honey-roasted vegetables. You can drizzle honey on pizza, too, or mix it into a rich batch of butter.

All the while, keep in mind those industrious little fellows who made the sweet stuff possible. Then stuff your face.

[via Laughing Squid]